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Banking Executive

Banking Executive

Tell me about it
Banking executives might work in any of the following areas:

  • Clearing, retail and private banking - involving the transfer, borrowing and lending of money (sterling and foreign currency) to private customers, sole traders and partnerships
  • Corporate and commercial banking - dealing with business clients ranging from small start-up companies to major international corporations
  • Investment or merchant banking - involving corporate finance, investment management and dealing in capital markets, usually on a global basis

Banks work to annual targets for customer numbers and products sold. Marketing and selling the bank's products and services, such as mortgages, loans, share dealing and will writing, is a major part of the job. Banking executives need to know all about these, and rival ones offered by competitors, so that they can discuss the benefits fully with customers.

The banking industry has undergone radical change over the last ten years, with many mergers and acquisitions taking place and increased competition from supermarkets, building societies, insurance companies and large retailers to provide financial services to individuals and organisations.

Entry level
There is such diversity in the banking sector that there are many possible training routes. All banks/financial institutions recruit school leavers and graduates in varying numbers from year to year. However, each institution has its own specific recruitment and training preferences and you should contact individual banks for current details and an application pack. You can access the websites of all major organisations through the British Bankers Association.

Most management training schemes require a degree as a starting point. The exact subject is not critically important but study in such fields as economics, finance, business or marketing could prove useful. 

For entry to a degree course you would need two to three A level or equivalent qualifications, together with a minimum of five GCSE/ passes A*-C.  The degree would usually last three years, although you might like to consider a sandwich course, which would last four years, including a period of paid work experience.

Making the grade
Trainee bankers usually follow a competence-based, on-the-job training programme. If you show the ability and enthusiasm to progress, you can take professional exams and work your way up to a senior position.
You may be encouraged to study part-time for qualifications offered by the Institute of Financial Services (ifs) School of Finance.

It is sometimes possible to join a management training scheme through internal promotion after gaining experience as a cashier or customer services adviser.

Personal qualities
Since much of your work would be concerned with dealing with a wide variety of people, both colleagues and customers, you would need excellent communication skills, as well as a good head for figures and an understanding of the economic climate.  Accuracy and organisational skills would be very important.

As a manager you should be able to inspire confidence and loyalty in your team, and also be capable of selling the bank's services effectively.  A high degree of computer literacy would be of benefit, as would proficiency in a foreign language.  You would generally be expected to maintain a neat, formal appearance.

Looking ahead
Technology has dramatically changed the face of banking over the past few years and has resulted in such initiatives as telephone and internet banking.  If you enter the banking industry, you would almost certainly face the prospect of continuing change.  Opportunities look likely to decline at branch level in retail banking but to increase in specialist areas of head office activity.

The vast majority of major UK financial institutions are based within the 'square mile' of the City of London or have moved out to the Docklands area. Edinburgh is another major location as it has a large concentration of capital market expertise in the form of banks, life assurance companies and unit trust and fund managers. Other areas of concentration for the sector include Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester.

Alternative suggestions
Other possibilities might include accountant, actuary, economist, financial adviser, insurance broker, insurance underwriter or stockbroker.

In retail banking, you might work normal office hours from Monday to Friday, although increasing competition may mean evening and weekend work. Promotion in this sector of the industry often entails moving to another part of the country.

In investment or merchant banking, you would need to be available when colleagues and clients are at work in other parts of the world, which could involve evening and night-time attendance at the office.  You may be required to travel extensively.

Take-home pay
Starting salaries for new entrants to graduate management trainee programmes usually range from around £23,000 to 32,000. You may also qualify for such things as a London allowance, funding for study for professional qualifications, and relocation expenses. Typical salaries at senior level range from £50,000 to £100,000, including sales commission, based on meeting targets. This amount varies according to your level of responsibility. City banks tend to offer higher levels of remuneration.

Your salary may attract a variety of fringe benefits, including private healthcare, contributory pension, development bonus, life insurance and cheap loans.

Sources of information
British Bankers Association:
Financial Skills Partnership:
Bank of England:
Chartered Banker Institute: 
Ifs School of Finance:
Institute of Bankers in Ireland:





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